Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Evil Thomas Edison...!

There's an old saying that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely!" Thomas Edison was a very good example of this!

This man could fit in very well with most of the politicians we have today, and he probably would be right at home in their presence!

Thomas Edison/Radio Corporation of America
Attempting a monopoly of patents

The ability for inventors and aspiring minds to call an idea their own, and theirs alone, is a very important mark of a fair society. Unfortunately, history is littered by examples of intellectual property being swallowed up by big corporations. In particular, Thomas Edison and the companies he formed with his vast wealth (RCA, General Electric) have always had a habit of trying to abuse the patent system for profit. The reason that Hollywood is the home of the movie industry is that film-makers in the 1920s were forced to abandon the east-coast because of the high royalties that Edison charged them for use of camera technologies. Edison even had hired goons to harass them for money.

But it was a policy of the RCA (Radio Corporation of America) that caused untold damage for inventors of the 20th century. The official company policy was that “The Radio Corporation doesn’t pay royalties” and, allegedly, David Sarnoff, the proud general manager of the company, boasted “we collect them [royalties]”. They repeatedly steamrolled inventors and small businesses to acquire their patents without licensing them, forcing the companies to collapse into the RCA’s arms because of the mounting legal fees. However, there is one notable exception – the inventor of electronic television, Philo T. Farnsworth, had his patent for electronic television and other components (notably the image dissector) approved in the early 30s, and no matter what the RCA did, they couldn’t get round Farnsworth’s patents. In 1939, a month after the war had started, the RCA accepted to pay, for the first time in their corporate history, a $1,000,000 patent license for Farnsworth’s electronic television. Legend has it there were tears in the eyes of the RCA men as they signed the document.

This whole practice was extremely unethical in terms of the technologies these companies prevented from reaching the market. Farnsworth hoped that “television would bring people together and prevent war”, but because of the RCA’s actions and endless lawsuits, television never got going until the 50s.

Back in the days of Edison and his cronies, the great men of wealth pretty much controlled the government and their actions. In some ways, not a lot different than today!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning because it looks a lot like more rain!


Momlady said...

Yet history books don't mention that. How 'bout sending some rain this way, please.

Sixbears said...

Edison was quite the thief.

I wonder what technologies we don't have today for pretty much the same reasons?

Bob from Athens said...

Gee, just think where TV would be today if it got started 20 years earlier. 20 years to "perfect" all the reality shows and dancing shows, we would probably have soap operas that were 80 years old, wow think of all the excitement !

Anonymous said...

What ?

Had to film on the west coast because if they filmed on the east coast they had to pay patent royalties?
Didn't know you were exempt from them west of the Mississippi .
Poor home work on that one

HermitJim said...

Hey Momlady...
Things like that are so often left out of the history books!

I'd sure share some of this rain with you if I could!

Have a great day, and thanks for coming by !

Hey Sixbears...
Isn't it a shame that all through history, the rich are always wanting more?

Never seems to be enough for them!

Thanks, my friend, for dropping in today!

Hey Bob...
Might have to change the names of some of the something like "Dancing with the Old Farts!"

I think some of the soap stars are about that age already!

Thanks for coming over this morning!

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 9:45...
I guess maybe Edison's reach didn't quite make it to the West Coast!

From what I've read, it had a lot to do with the film processing and the showing as well!

He still managed to make plenty of money! Thanks for coming by today!

JOJO said...

No nothing much has changed. Like Bob said above more stinking reality shows. More your dismissed shows.Hell's kitchen, I wish some one would wack him with a skillet. I hate TV anymore. Glad I have lots of books to read.

Please refill my cup.

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
It's true that there isn't a lot of good television on anymore.

About the only thing I watch is the old movies and I can get many of them on my Roku!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

HJ, as a NJ native which is also Edison's home state, I found this post interesting and quite revealing. Not that I knew a lot about Edison's background, but now I am curious to learn more. Im with you on favoring the old films of anything on TV, which is why I watch TCM while exercising at the YMCA.

Survival Food Supplies said...

I believe the fights and litigations for copyright will never end. Everybody wants his pound of flesh.

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